Andrea Gibson - Piano

“The casket is a ladder,” says the preacher.
I remember the ring you gave me,
how I smashed it into pieces trying to decide
if it was real.

What note could you have left
for your mother’s favorite black dress
worn here?

For your brother outside the window
in the suit he wore to prom
smoking his heart into hatchet?

For your father refusing to take a tissue,
embarrassing the men with the nervous coughs?

For the car your cousin keeps calling a limo?
For your baby sister asking
why they are calling it a wake?

Last night I tore the feathers from my pillow
searching for the songs of the birds.

Morning came silent
as your bones,
and now your face, here
in this empty box,
resting like a piano on fire.

Is this the place
you wanted to go
the night I swallowed your cock like an opera
and your makeup melted from your cheekbones
onto the whiskey spilled dirt?

When you walked me home
the earth was still
between my teeth.
My lungs were an attic full of dust.

You kept flipping through
the photographs on my breath.
Everything inside me
was overexposed,
the glitter in my tough,
the slur in my family tree.

When I asked you to stay
my jaw was not a hinge.
There was nothing open in the question.

We all have bullets beneath our skin
we pray our lovers won’t flinch at when they find.
We all have sirens in our light.

But if you think this is a eulogy
you haven’t seen my nail beds.

I’ve already built too many wind chimes
from covered tailpipes
to lay anyone down that clean,

to write your release
with a pretty pen
to the pitch of your mother’s scream.

The only word
I have to give you
is good-bye.

If the casket is a ladder,